Aug 022012

Under Pennsylvania law, lawsuits against certain licensed professionals must comply with a rule of law intended to discourage frivolous lawsuits. Almost ten years ago, in 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law which requires a special certificate known as a “Certificate of Merit” to be filed in all negligence cases against certain licensed professionals.

This law, Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.1, requires that within 60 days of the filing of a complaint, the attorney for the aggrieved party must file a certificate with the court affirming that an expert opinion confirmed the defendant’s negligence. That certificate must state that the professional committed negligence by deviating from the applicable professional standard. Failure to file this certificate is likely to lead to the case being thrown out of court.

This rule applies to specific licensed professionals which include:

  • medical providers,
  • lawyers,
  • dental providers,
  • architects,
  • accountants, and
  • psychologists.

However, Rule 1042.3 clarifies that in such cases, it must be alleged that the “licensed professional deviated from an acceptable professional standard…” In other words, if there is no claim that a licensed professional deviated from a professional standard, then there is no need for an expert opinion.

This is important because many claims against licensed professionals and unlicensed ones such as realtors, contractors, etc., may involve misrepresentation. Such claims would not require a certificate of merit. Under Pennsylvania law, professionals whether licensed or unlicensed, may be sued for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and innocent misrepresentation. These claims can be made in addition to, or in place of professional liability claims against licensed professionals. However, success of these claims should be evaluated by a lawyer.

For more information, contact a Pennsylvania professional liability lawyer.

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The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle professional liability matters in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:

  • PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
  • NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities

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Published: August 2, 2012

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